2009 Services Summit: A first hand look at Guatemala’s talent pool

2bannerFor those US companies who want to know more about the advantages of partnering with Guatemala outsourcing providers, a good place to learn more is to attend the upcoming Services Summit, running from Sept. 10-12 in Guatemala City.

The event will be organized under a corporate matchmaking format, allowing buyers and sellers to spend quality, one-on-one time together. This is a second annual event, sponsored by the Guatemala Exporters Association. Sessions will be organized around these key topic areas:

  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Health & Wellness Tourism
  • Laboratory Services
  • Software Development Solutions
  • Contact Centers & BPO´s

To register, just visit this site.

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Invest in Guatemala takes a huge cut in staff

Invest in Guatemala (IIG), the economic development agency based in Guatemala guatmapCity, recently lost 12 of 15 staff members in a sweeping layoff that has many in the local outsourcing industry wondering: What is the government thinking?

The agency is a key catalyst in promoting the BPO/outsourcing sector in Guatemala, and also helps attract investment into other industries such as agriculture, tourism, energy and manufacturing.

The news is a big shock to many who have come to recognize the Guatemala government as having an enlightened approach to attracting foreign investment.  IIG staff are charged with facilitating discussions between local service providers in the BPO sector and foreign clients. Most of the clients are from the US, and those formative relationships – cultivated by IIG – are built oftentimes on trust and continuity.

There is nothing more alarming for an foreign investor to learn about sudden shifts in strategy. We will try to find out more about the issues that triggered this sudden change – but will also invite readers to offer their own opinions.

The Guatemala economy is not enduring the same pain as some neighboring countries – which makes the cut even harder to understand. Just announced figures from the United Nations Latin American and Caribbean Economic Commission indicate the Guatemala economy will shrink by just 1% in 2009.  (Costa Rica, by comparision is enduring a 3% decline).  The overall Latin American region will slow by 1.7%, with Mexico facing a sizable 7% contraction.

The region is expected to get back on a growth track in 2010 – with economies expanding by 3% next year on average.

How much will the losses at IIG impact the outlook for the local BPO economy?

CAD and graphic design a specialty for emerging Guatemala Firm

Mario Espana is the managing director of CADIS, a Guatemala City-based services firm.

Mario Espana is the managing director of CADIS, a Guatemala City-based services firm.

Nearshore services involving product development, R and D and project support are definitely on the rise. While there remain concerns that the Nearshore region – especially Central America – risks being limited to call center and customer support services, we continue to see important signs of growth in value-added business support operations which – in our view – must define the next phase  of expansion for the Nearshore community.
Mario Espana is the managing director of CADIS, a Guatemala City-based operation providing graphic design for sales materials, CAD design for architectural projects, web design and other services. Espana views human capital as one of the primary attractions of the Guatemala services sector. In an interview with the Examiner (an online news journal), Espana points to the emergence of a qualified and eager workforce as a key reason why CADIS located here.
He points out:

  • Guatemala has the largest population in Central America, of which more than 50% of the people are under the age of 25.
  • There is a strong trajectory of outsourcing companies in different industries: from apparel to call centers to back office services.
  • Guatemala also has the largest college student population in the region, and both government and private sector are investing in new industry oriented training facilities and programs.
  • A new $10 million IT training facility has recently opened, which was established to house call center and BPO incubators, CAD and web design labs, and – in partnership with Studio C – a state of the art 3D animation studio.

The Guatemala Story: Will Big Tech and ITO Define the Next Wave?

During last week’s  IAOP Central America conference, I had the unique pleasure to spend some time with Ingrid Jacobs, a high energy and enthusiastic champion of near shore outsourcing in Guatemala. She is a senior advisor in the government-supported Invest in Guatemala agency.

Ingrid Jacobs is a senior advisor at Invest in Guatemala

Ingrid Jacobs is a senior advisor at Invest in Guatemala

Ingrid played a major role in driving the success of the  conference  – pulling together logistics, orchestrating sponsors and driving registration – all in a span of about six weeks.

Ingrid reports that:

  • The number of BPO employee in Guatemala has roughly doubled in the last 6 months, rising to 12,000 FTEs.
  • The government is increasingly focused on bi-lingual education, both in near term and long term.
  • Attracting firms seeking support for ITO functions is becoming a major initiative for Guatemala.

No doubt Guatemala’s leadership sees the advantages of ITO and KPO partnerships — higher service and value delivery to clients, the creation of more vertically-oriented career paths and the potential to become a hub of ICT support throughout the region.

Word is that both IBM and HP have existing near shore operations in Guatemala City.* (see note below)

Another great contact at Invest in Guatemala is Luisa Ybarra. Both Luisa and Ingrid are exceptionally helpful and can answer many of the important questions firms might have about setting up ops in Guatemala. The English-version of the Invest in Guatemala website can be found here.

Editorial Note: We will continue to work with captive outsourcing companies, BPO providers and national investment agencies to shed light on the real impact near shore outsourcing is having in producing greater value to client  organizations. Our intention is not to expose companies not interested in getting exposure – rather it is our belief that near shore outsourcing carries with it a wide range of positive impacts: from creating social and economic stability in near shore nations to spurring goodwill and friendships across borders to providing powerful innovative tools to sponsoring clients.  Continue to send leads and ideas to me: kirk@nextcoastmedia.com Thanks!

Blogging Live from the Central America IAOP Meeting – Next Week!

Caribbean CRM Central will travel west next week – stopping in to shake hands and blog live from the Central America chapter meeting of the International Association of Outsourcing Professionals, in Guatemala City.

     Guatamala City will host the IAOP's chapter meeting on April 23-24

Guatamala City will host the IAOP's chapter meeting on April 23-24

Central America near shore BPO  is thriving and we’ll show you why. Speaking at the event will be the vice president of Guatemala, Rafael Espada, IAOP chairman Michael Corbett, as well as Chris Disher, president Chris Disher & Associates, Don Althoff, former CIO of British Petroleum, Estuardo Robles, principal advisor of Roaring Jaguar, Roger Conrado, president and CEO of GVC Partners, Lori Blackman, president of DNL Global, Steve Rudderham, president of Genpact Latin America,  Mario Lopez, director with Transactel,  Nina Kawalek, CEO of RCCSP Education Alliance and David S. Anderson, CEO of The Utopia Group.

IAOP members can register directly with Amanda Corbett at: amanda.corbett [at] outsourcingprofessionals.org

A few important  sourcing facts about Guatemala (courtesy of AMR Research’s Phil  Fersht in this recent post:

  • 4.1m of its total population is “economically active”
  • 80% of its population is under 30
  • 80% are taught English from the age of 5
  • 86% literacy rate in  Guatemala City
  • University-level population of over 200,000 students
  • Robust telecom infrastructure
  • 20 years of democracy
  • 5200 feet above sea-level and 60-85 degrees all-year-round
  • Strong base of investment from multi-national corporations – for example P&G, Walmart, Scotiabank, Capgemini and ACS
  • Investing in windfarm projects with the Mexican government
  • Manufacturing represents its major industry, but increasing exports of coffee, bananas and green tomatoes are driving economic growth